The Therapy Sessions
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
The inequality mirage
Even now and then, the Economist says something so elegantly, so succinctly, that no further comment is needed:Poverty and inequality
HUNDREDS of millions of people in the world are forced to endure lives of abject poverty—poverty so acute that those fortunate enough to live in the United States, or Europe or the rich industrialised parts of Asia can scarcely comprehend its meaning. Surely there is no more commanding moral imperative for people in the West than to urge each other, and their governments, to bring relief to the world's poorest. And what a tragedy it is, therefore, that many of the kind souls who respond most eagerly to this imperative bring to the issue an analytical mindset that is almost wholly counterproductive. They are quite right, these champions of the world's poor, that poverty in an age of plenty is shameful and disgusting. But they are quite wrong to suppose, as so many of them do, that the rich enjoy their privileges at the expense of the poor—that poverty, in other words, is inseparable from a system, capitalism, that thrives on injustice. This way of thinking is not just false. It entrenches the very problem it purports to address.